Silver Chips Online

High AP scores to take place of HSA's

New Maryland policy promotes challenging courses for free ticket out of HSA's

By David Jia, Online Blair Connections Editor
August 14, 2006
Maryland Superintendent of Schools Dr. Nancy S. Grasmick and President of College Board Gaston Caperton joined Montgomery County Superintendent of Schools Jerry Weast at Watkins Mill High School on July 26 to jointly announce that henceforth, AP (Advanced Placement) and International Baccalaureate (IB) tests can be used to opt-out on one or more of the HSA's.

Montgomery County Student Member of the Board Sarah Horvitz voiced her support for the new policy. "Why should [students] have to go though another set of time-consuming tests to prove that they know the basic subject matter when they've already proven that they've mastered the material?" she said.

With last year's removal of the Geometry HSA and this policy change, the amount of HSA testing will decrease dramatically. More emphasis, however, will be put on passing HSA's in English 2, U.S. Government, Biology and Algebra, which will be required for graduation, starting with the class of 2009.

AP U.S Government Government teacher David Swaney articulated his concern with what he feels are differing standards on a state and AP level. "If an AP government student were to skip the Maryland HSA in government," he said, "he or she might not know a thing about Maryland or Montgomery County government, which I think would be a shame." But every year, in AP NSL class, Swaney explained, students need to take the AP test, the HSA for U.S. Government and the final exam for AP NSL within one month's time. Swaney dubbed the final exam "serious overkill."

Students must get a score of three or higher on the AP's or a four or above on the IB exam for the policy to go into effect. According to College Board, within the last five years, students taking AP exams increased by 70 percent, but the percent of passing scores has been decreasing every year since 2002.

Junior Mindy Or stated that while having a free pass out of HSA's is a "nice side benefit," it will not motivate students taking AP courses to work harder.

This new policy brings Maryland into the growing group of states that are allowing the AP's to substitute for state mandated standardized testing. On January 10, 2001, Virginia was the first state to initiate such a policy. The Senate of Virginia passed a bill stating "appropriate and relevant industry certification or state licensure examinations may be substituted for correlated Standards of Learning examinations."

http://silverchips.mbhs.edu/story/6567